You know the story by now.
Get off to a slow start, start taking better care of the ball, make in game adjustments that lead to getting stops on defense, and pull out a victory. IU has been on this script going all the back to the UC Davis game, save for a forgettable outlier at Duke. We’ll come back to Duke in a moment.
The good news — the in-game transformation came much earlier than it has in recent weeks.
After trailing 19-14 at the 14:32 mark in the first half, Indiana went on a 19-0 run over the next 9:25 to take a 33-19 lead.
Indiana then put up a 22-0 scoring run in the second half to extend the lead to 74-40 with 8:33 remaining in the game. Central Arkansas did not score a field goal for a period of 9:39 in the second half as the Hoosiers outscored the Bears in that stretch, 26-2.
Indiana (10-2) was able to pull away from the Bears and secure their first five game winning streak since December of 2016.
Yes, Indiana recovered from another bad start — but they did it against Central Arkansas. We saw in Durham last month what happens when IU gets off to a bad start on the road against elite competition. And there are road trips upcoming to Ann Arbor, East Lansing, and other unfriendly confines.
The Hoosiers have work to do.
Indiana started the game like they were still riding the high of the win over Butler, and like they knew they were the better team on the floor. Of course they were, but their coach was not pleased:
“Yeah, really careless. We were really careless. Like I said the first half, we weren’t ready to go. We almost looked like we were winded starting the game almost and the standing around, the one-hand passes, just the — you know, not detailed, and you know, we got through it and I thought we played a better game after that but clearly the first four minutes our starting unit get off to a great start on either end of the floor.”
IU continues to be one of the more efficient teams in the country, shooting 56.3 from the field, and marking the eighth game this year the Hoosiers have shot 50 percent or better. Indiana entered the game ranked 4th in the nation in field goal percentage.
IU was able to get a lot of points out of the flow of their offense, generating 25 assists for the game on just 12 turnovers. The Hoosiers were once again able to shoot a respectable, if not great percentage from long range, and once again it was the hot hand of one player that helped the cause.
Devonte Green attributed his strong shooting night to “having a lot of open ones.” That is no small statement. With Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan on the floor, there are going to be a lot of open ones for the rest of the team.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t beat into your heads the slow starts, and what that might mean on the road in the Big Ten. That’s exactly what Archie Miller intends to do too:
“You’ve just got to beat it into our guys’ heads how important it is to take care of the ball. The last three or four games, a lot of empty possessions and a lot of it is trying to go on your own and get away from things. To start the game, trying to get going, trying to do something, so it’s not there, and again, just we’ve got to be better there. And then, you know, 12 turnovers we finish with, which is fine, but you know, clearly the slow starts and some of our starts problematic definitely stems from our offensive execution and just being able to take care of it, so it’s a big concern.”
Indiana improved to 18-2 under Archie Miller when holding teams under 70 points — but it didn’t look like it would end up that way.
Which defense do you grade here? With around 14 minutes left in the first half, IU had already allowed 19 points — a roughly 125 pace for the game. Then they allowed 34 points over the last 34 minutes.
Miller expressed serious concerns with ball screen coverage and defending three pointers.
“We’re going to watch the film and we’ve got to get back to work, very concerned right now defensively in terms of our three point field goal defense and how many they are making in the last three games, and that’s got to get corrected here as we move into Saturday.”
These are issues that you’d like to think would be largely worked out by now. With just one game in the next two weeks, there will be plenty of time to get things fixed.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (B) Morgan was definitely one of the guilty when it came to sloppy passing early. He did end up with 4 assists overall, however, and had fine game on the low end of the spectrum of what he is capable of.
- Justin Smith* (B) Smith did a better job finishing at the basket in this one — although admittedly against inferior competition. Better and longer athletes might not permit some of those buckets. His rebounding numbers continue to confound. Smith needs to hunt rebounds.
- Romeo Langford* (A-) Admit it. You are spoiled. 18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and just one turnover, and he is barely discussed. We’ve come to expect it. What makes Langford special is that he can have a game like this quietly. He does it all within the flow of the game, and contributes much more than just scoring.
- Rob Phinisee* (A-) Phinisee was a steadying influence early during the slow start with 2 assists and no turnovers — and he knocked down another three like Saturday never happened. Of course now he is in concussion protocol, and we will wait and see what’s next.
- Al Durham* (C+) Early turnovers got him the hook just over a minute into the game. Miller is clearly losing patience here. The good news — Durham accounted for himself nicely the rest of the way.
- Evan Fitzner (B) This was a better showing after a lot of choppy outings. If he can give you a couple buckets and 4 rebounds per game he will continue to be a valuable asset. His left hand in the post is impressive.
- De’Ron Davis (B) Another quiet game for the big man after the strong one vs. Louisville. It may be like this all year with Davis as the matchups dictate his role and production.
- Zach McRoberts (B-) Somehow McRoberts has to find a way to become more involved in the offense. He doesn’t look like he is even considering scoring the ball. There will be moments in the Big Ten when teams start leaving him open.
- Devonte Green (A) There it is. We’ve seen enough games like this from Green to know this was coming. More than the points, the rest of the stat line was eye-popping. Games like this from Green along with Langford and Morgan could make this team lethal.
- Damezi Anderon (C) Damezi is a shooter, and when opportunity called with Phinisee injured, he went 0-3. There have been and will be better days.
- Clifton Moore (B+) They weren’t really “meaningful minutes”, but 5 rebounds in 8 minutes is worth mentioning.
- Jake Forrester (B+) Similarly, you can’t overlook 8 points in 7 minutes while adding 2 rebounds and a block as Forrester earned his way into the post-game interviews.
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